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Published: Friday, 12/2/2005

Repaying detainees may cost $150,000


MONROE - The federal government has estimated that it will have to pay more than $150,000 to return the cash and the property that a former immigration officer was convicted of stealing from more than 1,300 detainees lodged in Monroe County's two jails.

Patrick Wynne, 33, of Milan faces 57 months in prison, a fine of $250,000, and full restitution of the estimated $308,000 in cash he stole from detainees at the Monroe County jail between 2000 and 2004. He is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 19 in U.S. District Court in Detroit, where he entered a guilty plea in July under a plea agreement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Judge said.

"The vast majority of [stolen cash and goods] belongs to people who have been deported or who have left the country, so you're talking about a lot of overseas shipping and coordinating with consulates all over the world," Mr. Judge said.

Mr. Judge said that Wynne had operated without much supervision from his superiors in what is now the Department of Homeland Security. For example, Mr. Judge said, Wynne had five official vehicles assigned to him, some of which were discovered stuffed full of stolen property.

"There were bags and bags of stuff, some of which he hadn't gotten around to opening yet to look for cash," Mr. Judge said.

Wynne had access to the jewelry, clothing, suitcases, family photos, and religious items found in his possession because, under INS regulations, a federal detainee's seized property remains with the detainee as he or she awaits immigration determination hearings, Mr. Judge said. He added that at an earlier hearing Wynne expressed "shock" that the amount of money he is alleged to have stolen added up to more than $300,000.

Monroe County Jail Administrator Darwin Paz said Wynne's former duties at the inmate dormitory dealt with the approximately 80 detainees housed there, so that when his thefts were uncovered, they did not affect the county's operation.

Wynne's crimes were discovered after the Department of Homeland Security received numerous complaints from former detainees that their property had never been returned to them.

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